2014 Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler Edition storms the beach

Latest special-edition off-roader packs WWII swagger

Published: November 22, 2013 05:30 PM
At 2013 LA Auto Show.

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Jeep has been trotting out special-edition Wranglers with desperate frequency. Most seem like half measures, with silly graphics and thin themes. Tiki idols, dragons, and the arctic have all been referenced in recent renditions. Yawn. But Jeep brought out the big guns at the LA Auto Show, the 2014 Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler Edition.

Born of necessity, the original Jeep was the small, crude pack mule for Allied forces in World War II. It proved its worth on the battlefield and inspired a civilian version whose reputation has grown through the decades. Now, the modern Wrangler tips its dirty cowboy hat to the original Willys MB. (Read our complete Jeep Wrangler road test.)

This special edition is based on the Wrangler Sport, with upgraded mechanicals, gloss-black grille and bumper appliques, black wheels, "Willys" hood decals, and obligatory trim details. It comes with a Sunrider soft top, although other tops are available.

For serious off-roading, this Willys is fitted with a rugged Dana 44 rear axle with a limited-slip differential and 3.73 gears, BF Goodrich mud-ready tires, rock rails, and a Trail Rated kit that includes a D-ring, tow strap, and gloves—in case you need to rescue another vehicle, naturally.

To entertain in the wilderness, you also get the Connectivity Group package with satellite radio. Additional equipment is available.

With a nod to their service, my grandfather and father would approve of this tribute.

Having been a fan of the previous TJ-based Willys Edition a decade ago, I was thrilled to see this concept revisited with the current-gen Wrangler, especially after a spate of dull editions. Personally, the Call of Duty MW3 edition had real appeal, but linking the paramilitary-themed package to a single video game seemed a limiting approach. A year or two later and that seems sooo dated. It would be as if there was a Ms. Pac-Man Compass, or if Hyundai offered a "Walking Dead Season Four" Tucson.

The TK Willys starts at $25,795 for the two-door model and $29,595 for the Unlimited. Draft me.

Jeff Bartlett

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